Battleground Talents Part 1: Evaluating Talents


If you are going to be spending a lot of time in the battlegrounds of Azeroth, you owe it to yourself to at least consider taking some talents to help you succeed. Every class, every talent tree, has something to help you do better in a PvP environment. I run into a lot of people in Wintergrasp who are incredible raiders who struggle in the battlegrounds because they are not only in PvE gear, but also using PvE talent builds. It’s using the wrong tool for the wrong job!

If you can afford it, I really recommend springing for dual-specialization, even if you’re a pure DPS class. Hybrid classes benefit the most from it, but a secondary spec allows a pure class the freedom to try out some PvP talents without sacrificing your raid setup. It also lets you try out talent trees you wouldn’t normally have considered — I know I never would have gone Destruction if I hadn’t dual-specced. The flexibility to switch back and forth and try things out is really wonderful.

Like most people, I’m most familiar with the classes I’ve played the most often. So while I can spend hours talking about Warlock talents, I can’t say much about, say, Mage talents beyond “Fire=PvE, Frost=PvP.” But looking across the classes, it really does seem like a few general guidelines apply.

When I look at talents for battlegrounds, I judge them on three conditions:

  1. Survival. Does this talent keep me alive, either by avoiding, mitigating, or healing damage?
  2. Control. Does this talent improve my ability to affect, control or interrupt other players?
  3. Output. Does this talent increase my damage or healing? Does it give me more burst, or longer durations? Lower casting times?

I’d like to say that the priority between these is always Survival > Control > Output, but it depends on your class and playstyle.

Let me talk a little bit more about each one of these categories in turn.


The key to good PvP survival talents is working with what your class gives you. Some are better at deflecting it, others absorbing it, and others at escaping it altogether.

For example, I wear magical cloth into battle. That’s okay — that cloth gives me a good solid pool of hit points to work with and plenty of resilience, but still… it’s cloth. If I wore plate, talents that increase my armor would be worth considering. But since I wear cloth, I should assume that I’m going to take the damage and absorb it — or let my pet absorb it via Soul Link. Mages would do best to avoid the damage entirely — any talent that improves Blink or Ice Block should at least be considered.

Many of these survival talents have little or no use in endgame raiding. A raiding DPS who spends her talent points in damage mitigation isn’t spending them increasing her own DPS. A battleground DPS who doesn’t spend some of her talents in survival talents won’t live long enough to do any DPS.

So: escape, redirect, avoid, and heal that damage!


Only slightly less important than survival is establishing control over your opponents. You must nullify their ability to affect you before they do the same to you. (I consider the extended range talents to be in this category, and practically essential for PvP.)

In some battlegrounds — Wintergrasp being the prime example — control is more important than survival, especially to the side without Tenacity. Crowd Control is the best answer to 20 stacks of Tenacity — take that warrior with 130k hp and stun, fear, root, snare, sheep them into submission.

But in general, while I think control is a useful component of survival, it doesn’t trump it.  You need both to succeed.


Perhaps this goes without saying, but if you specialize in survival and control at the cost of damage or healing output, you’re not going to succeed in any battleground.

The key here is to avoid specialization.  Your job is not to do as much damage or healing as mathematically possible. It is to do enough to take out an opponent or heal a party member while not getting killed by people who are intent upon doing just that. Any raid spec concentrates on filling a very specific role within a party, and counts upon other members of the group providing the other functions. A tank can’t succeed without a healer to keep them alive and DPS to kill the boss.

Tanking, as a concept, doesn’t really exist in battlegrounds. The only place for a tank is in front of Drek and Van in AV, which is the exception to prove the rule. You need a boss to have a tank, and most bosses aren’t found in battlegrounds.

Instead, a good battleground build strikes a balance between survivability and output.  Yes, absolutely take those talents that make you do your thing better.  But topping the DPS/HPS charts is not your goal — winning the battleground is.

Next time, I’ll go further into specific Warlock talent builds for the battleground using these guidelines.

Hey, write what you know, right?


Filed under Cynwise's Battlefield Manual

5 responses to “Battleground Talents Part 1: Evaluating Talents

  1. It is still amusing that they have PvP gear for tank builds…they are actually really useful because they don’t die easily to many of the normal BG killers (rogues, hunters, etc.) and are useful in distracting some classes and interrupting spell casts in others. They can also defend flags, etc. much longer than a lot of other classes. So they do have their place…sort of.

  2. Great info, Cyn. I’ve been playing around in BGs as a Prot Warrior and just changed my secondary spec from Fury to Arms.

    Running around as Prot in a BG is very different than Arms, because as opposed to the damage and debuffing an Arms Warrior is responsible for, a Protection Warrior spends most of his time interrupting, stunning, and silencing.

    Like you said, you really have to know what your class and spec are capable of and apply them to PvP. If you go into a BG as a Prot Warrior and try to top the damage meters, you’re not helping your team out at all.

    Sorry for the rambly wall o’ text 🙂

    • @Ten’nen: That’s a good point, and one I waffled a bit on making. Tanking talents are often, but not always, useful for PvP, but a full raid tank build isn’t the way to go. Increased threat is obviously worthless, while increased armor, health or interrupts are obviously not. On my 59 Frost DK I deliberately skipped over Toughness, Frigid Deadplate and Unbreakable Armor. But then again, I only tank Drek, so those talents aren’t necessary.

      @Misneach: Next to Rogues, I find a well-played Protection Warrior to be one of the most challenging opponents on a battlefield. They prevent casters from getting off any combos and surviving the spells that we do manage to fire off. If EMFH and Death Coil are both on CD I’m pretty much screwed as Destro. Affliction fares a bit better, but it also has more defenses both against melee and spell interrupts.

      But yeah — Fear is a critical part of my BG toolbox. It establishes range, which in turn lets me burn down my opponent.

      (As an aside, it looks like PvP Rogues’ diets apparently consist of nothing but thinly-sliced Warlocks.)

      • Pre-3.0, Locks looked at me and saw lunch. Post-3.0, I do much better against them.

        Of course, there was the Lock in Wintergrasp who I killed only to die 5 seconds later thanks to his DoTs.

        Can’t figure out who really won that battle 🙂

        • The nice thing about those battles: you both win. I love standing in the Warsong Gulch graveyard and watching those pretty yellow numbers float up across the battlefield.